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By Clint Fleener | June 26, 2006

Its all there. Good story, dynamic characters, an interesting world that most Americans don’t know anything about ‘El Escape De Los Santos’ has it all but it’s marred by horrible delivery.

It’s a timely story, the Del Los Santos family live in Texas near the border. Part of a culture that still moves freely between the borders, Andre De Los Santos speaks Spanish at home and is such a fine upstanding citizen of a red state that he likes to hunt. It’s the hunting that gets him in trouble. He and his friend head over the border for some fun, Andre forgets about the shotguns he has stored in his trunk. His car is searched and the Mexican police find the guns and charge him as a weapons dealer. Andre first solicits help from his godfather, a local tough guy turned defense lawyer.

Unfortunately the Mexican judicial system proudly uses the term ‘Kafkaesque’ in all it’s promotional literature. Andre is punished for every good intension he has, the guns are legally registered in Texas and Mexico, he takes the fall instead of blaming his friend and is punished for playing by the fluid rules the legal system. Initially he relies upon his uncle and godfather’s guidance but all they can successfully mange is to get him transferred to a hospital for review before he is handed a ten year sentence. The movie is almost over by the time any serious discussion of escape arises. Almost by accident and because of his ability to move between two cultures Andre escapes back to the United States. It’s a fascinating movie but I waited anxiously for a good escape film that delivered only in the last few minutes. The rest of the film exposes the many, many, ways that the Mexican justice system is inept at best, systematically corrupt at it’s worst.

Except for Alonso Wheeler as Andres the acting isn’t memorable, their isn’t any particularly artful direction either, even the subtitles are annoying, but the worst is the writing. Admittedly, the Mexican judicial system is worthy of the indictment this film levels at it, but to much time is spent following Andre through the criminal justice system a process we know, if only from the title, is going to be fruitless. A better movie would have been made by telling the story of how Andres escapes, less by itemizing the faults of the Mexican criminal justice system.

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